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Old 06-26-2014, 03:09 PM   #1
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Question Anyone Using Solar Power

We're curious to know if anyone is using portable or fixed solar panels and what your experience is.

Ken & Val [Lexi's mom] Moczygemba & Tori the dog
Adkins, TX
2017 Coachmen Concord 300 DS [Lexi III]
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:40 AM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: West Orange, NJ
Posts: 54
No first hand experience but...

No firsthand experience but...
I was considering the Harbor Freight Thunderbolt Kit as opposed to the suitcase setups.
The suitcase units are more expensive but the units I was looking at are more than double the output. I think that’s due to a combination of size and better panel technology.
The other consideration for me is the “package” size. I need to check my storage compartments to plan where I might be able to keep them conveniently.
The low wattage units are just for trickle charge and require no controller. The higher output panels and panel arrays should have controllers to prevent over charging of the batteries in the circuit.
This is all just what I have been picking up on the internet and subject to my interpretation and not firsthand experience.

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Old 07-07-2014, 12:08 PM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Washington state
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I just saw a video for an Australian tent trailer type thing, and they laid out a very thin sheet of "solar panels" on top of the tent ..... has anyone heard of anything like that in the US?
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:28 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: West Orange, NJ
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No I haven't. It sounds very interesting but I don't think it would work for me. I am looking for something portable and convenient but able to take some knocking around. The suitcase units seem like the best setup for me. I was thinking about solar setups while camping a few weeks ago. We were parked under some trees to stay in the shade, because it was fairly warm out. There was no hookup available so the Air Conditioner was not even a consideration. If I had solar panels installed on the roof I would have to be parked in the full sun for them to be useful. With the portable solar units I would be able to park in the shade and keep the trailer a little cooler and still get some benefit from the solar panels by placing them in the full sun. Still no Air Conditioning but the batteries would be getting some charging time.
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Old 07-25-2014, 10:15 PM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: West Orange, NJ
Posts: 54
I just picked up my battery from the Clipper. It's an Exide Marine Dual purpose. It seems like a reasonable fit for my needs at a pretty good price so I think I'll match it with another. I have a 120 amp solar charger system and am aiming for a dual battery set up. I think that should meet my needs fairly well. Time will tell. I have a lockable battery box on the way. I will be doing camping "off the grid" for the most part. Not full blown boon-docking but state parks, no power hookup. The battery is fairly new, two trips very little use, but I may upgrade the batteries when the time comes.

TV: Chrysler T&C
TT: Coachmen Clipper 17FQ
MV: West Wight Potter 15
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Old 02-20-2015, 11:57 PM   #6
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2005 Lexington 283gts. I have two harbor freight solar panels. A 5 watt panel connected to the cigarette 12V dashboard connector and a 13 watt panel connected to the two coach batteries. Both used to trickle charge the batteries while in storage.
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Old 02-21-2015, 12:45 AM   #7
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I don't have a Lexington, but run pretty much exclusively on solar with 540watt of mounted panels and 4 - 6v AGM batteries for 440ah's.

Mounted and portable both have their advantages. With portable setups it's nice to be able to park in the shade and still be able to take advantage of solar power. Mounted you don't have to worry about setup and you're charging while in transit... not just when parked.

I highly recommend it for anyone that plans on doing any type of dry camping on a regular basis, but you really have to consider the initial investment against your planned usage to see if it is a good fit. Most casual dry campers are generally better off to invest in a small portable generator and a larger battery bank.

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Old 02-24-2015, 05:14 PM   #8
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Location: Texas
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I'm in the process of putting 2 12V 160 watt each monocrystillin panels on the roof and a 40 MPPT charge control to 375AH battery bank. I have the wiring ran from roof to the controller and battery bank so all is left is mounting the panels once the weather clears up. Next going to be installing a Cotek ST2000 True Sine Wave inverter, it has a built in transfer switch. All that tied to my shore power, 5500 watt Onan, and 50amp Progressive surge protector and 50amp transfer switch. I should't need the Onan generator anymore except to run the 2 A/C's if there's no shore power. I'm excited about getting this project done once this icey weather is gone. We camp a lot where there isn't any shore power available. It's been a fun project for me. Good luck with your solar project.

2014 Palomino Columbus 3650TH
435AH 12V VMax Charge Tanks, 520 watt Monocrystilline Solar Array, Morningstar MPPT TS-60 CC,Morningstar Remote,Cotek True Sine Wave Inverter,Cotek Remote Controller,50amp Progressive Hardwire Surge Protector
2015 Dodge 3500 6.7L 4X4
2011 CanAm Commander XT 1000
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